for autonomous sociology

Training Scholars to Study Non-Scholarly Life

Edward Said’s Orientalism pointed out the folly of assuming ‘that the swarming, unpredictable, and problematic mess in which human beings live can be understood on the basis of what books—texts—say,’ but the field of Islamic Studies doesn’t seem to have paid much attention. Job descriptions emphasise knowledge of canonical texts, and published work, such as Shahab Ahmed’s What Is Islam? (2016), is often written as if you could understand, say, Sufism just by reading classical Sufi philosophy, without taking a close look at what Sufis actually do. Read more →

Surviving Sociology in Egypt and Elsewhere

Mona Abaza interviews me on openDemocracy: There’s a school of thought that says it doesn’t matter whether nations are real, because people behave as if they are. But false beliefs can have very destructive effects: think of witch trials, or the denial of climate science. Belief in nations is dangerous because, since they’re imaginary, you can say whatever you want about them and no one can prove you wrong… Read more →

New Book: Ten Arab Filmmakers

Ten Arab Filmmakers: Political Dissent and Social Critique is an edited volume about the films and careers of Arab directors whose films take a critical view of social realities. It includes a chapter by me (open access) on how the Egyptian filmmaker Yousry Nasrallah has succeeded in occupying a rather autonomous position in the cinematographic field. Read more →

How to Become an Obscure Public Sociologist

In the year 2000, I moved from New York to London. The protests against the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle had just taken place, and similar social movements were springing up around the world. I played a small role in this ‘alter-globalisation’1 movement, as one of the founders of a short-lived London branch of the international ATTAC network. Launched in France in 1998, ATTAC opposed neoliberal economics and advocated policies that aimed to limit the power of the global financial markets. Read more →

Arabic Translation of ‘Autonomy and Symbolic Capital in an Academic Social Movement’

Idafat: The Arab Journal of Sociology has just published an Arabic translation (open access) of my article, ‘Autonomy and Symbolic Capital in an Academic Social Movement: The March 9 Group in Egypt’. I’m glad that I was able to make this research accessible to more readers, especially readers in Egypt who have been directly affected by the events discussed in the article. The effort that I put into getting it published in Arabic will be rewarded if it contributes something to discussions about social movements in Egypt before and since the revolutionary uprising of 2011. Read more →